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It's Only Natural PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Dr. Steven Novella   

There is no practical limit to the made up magical nonsense that people will use to sell snake oil to the public. I was recently asked to take a look at this particular product - the Only Natural Flea and Tick tag.  

The product promises to be all-natural and to employ the latest holistic science. Of course I am always fascinated by the section on such websites titled "how it works." Let's see:  

"The EasyDefense tag is treated with a bio-energetic process and sealed in an electro-magnetic shielded envelope. When opened and placed on your pet, it uses your pet's own inherent energy to send out frequencies that repel pests. The process operates with quantum mechanic's refined frequencies, and is somewhat similar to the basic principles of homeopathy. (It does not use traditional energy forms like electrical, chemical, thermal, magnetic, or radioactive.)"  

This reminds me of the wisdomofchopra website. If you haven't seen it yet, take a look. Essentially the site randomly chooses words of which Deepak Chopra is fond and strings them together into phrases that are just as dense with wisdom as Chopra's own pronouncements.  

In this case we have a random string of alternative babble that is just as coherent as if you chose from among such words out of a bag. Most of the popular ones are there. As I said the site already used "natural" and "holistic" and here they add "energy," "frequencies," and "quantum mechanics." As a further hook they claim it's loosely based on the basic principles of homeopathy (namely bullshit and deception).  

For only $80 you can get this little chip (not sure what's its actually made of) so that your pet can continue to be tormented by fleas and be vulnerable to ticks.  

In the FAQ on the site they answer the question - is there any scientific evidence that this works?  

"Although it has proven to be completely safe and effective, no large scale studies or clinical trials have been done on the EasyDefense Tag because the application of the underlying technology when used as a pest repellent for pets is relatively new. The energetic technology itself has been well tested and proven effective and has been used in Europe for many years in other applications for humans."  

Short answer - no. They cite anecdote and some vague reference to the "energetic technology," whatever that is, but admit they don't have any actual science to back up their claims. They claim because the application is just too new. The next question in the FAQ is how long the tag will last, and they confidently claim the effect lasts for three years. How could they know that without studies lasting at least three years?  

The claim is often made that such products used on animals must really work because animals can't have a placebo effect (the same is often claimed for babies). This is not true, however, and is based on a gross misunderstanding of what makes up placebo effects. They include things like regression to the mean, a statistical phenomenon that is independent of the knowledge or expectations of the creature being treated.  

Further, bias is assessing the outcome of an intervention occurs with the person making the assessment, and does not have to be on the target. In this case the pet owner is deciding whether or not this tag works. Reading the customer reviews we see a mix of positive and negative - 22 out of 87 reviews said that the product does not work. That is actually a pretty high percentage, even for a worthless product, given the bias of the people buying such a product in the first place and bothering to leave a review.  

The website claims it works better as a preventive than a cure for an existing flea infestation. Of course - if you already have fleas, then a worthless chip that works only by magical non-existent energy isn't going to do anything. If your pets do not have fleas and you put the tag on their collar and they still don't have fleas, you might be convinced that it works. Most of the negative reviews are from owners who already had a flea infestation, and were disappointed that the magical chip didn't work.  

I don't like to blame the victim. So in addition to the company itself for making such claims, I guess we can blame the educational system for its failure to teach basic scientific literacy and critical thinking skills.

 

Steven Novella, M.D. is the JREF's Senior Fellow and Director of the JREF’s Science-Based Medicine project.

Dr. Novella is an academic clinical neurologist at Yale University School of Medicine. He is the president and co-founder of the New England Skeptical Society and the host and producer of the popular weekly science show, The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe. He also authors the NeuroLogica Blog.

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Secret Invasion?
written by JonK, July 07, 2012
Maybe the company behind this product is secretly run by super intelligent ticks from outer space as part of their invasion plan!
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written by LovleAnjel, July 07, 2012
This is worrisome... People without fleas might be lured into a false sense of security. They might not be vigilant forfleas that get introduced into their house by visitors. Uncontrolled fleas can kill an animal.
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written by ayhtida, July 07, 2012
From the site:

Please note that if your pet has recently had surgery, vaccinations, or has been treated with medications, it may take a little longer for the tag to develop the bio-energetic frequencies necessary to begin repelling pests.

Damn vaccines, causing the Flu and Autism in humans, and reducing the bio-quantumsynergestic frequencies in pets.
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written by Caller X, July 08, 2012
I don't like to blame the victim.


I love blaming the victim. In this case it is the "victims" who are at fault.
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This looks to be a variant of a VERY old scam: Tiger stones!
written by Zep, July 08, 2012
Yes, tiger stones. I have some tiger protection stones here. They look like ordinary road gravel, but I assure you they work. They are an old mystical Chinese (or Korean or Thibetan...I forget which) prevention for tiger attacks. They are 100% guaranteed. I have been using them for 20 years as have all my friends, and none of us have been attacked by tigers ever! Usually these are US$100 for 100gms of stones, but today they are on sale to you for just AUS$89.95 plus postage and handling. Contact details on request.

smilies/wink.gif
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written by NobbyNobbs, July 08, 2012
This reminds me of a story aboutmy father told me. He said it was the female mosquito that bites you but only the male makes the buzzing sound. So if you're lying in bed late at night and you hear a buzzing in your ear, you can rest easy. But if in the darkness of your room you hear nothing at all... well, then you have something to worry about.
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Sounds just like Shoo!Tag
written by Karl_Withakay, July 09, 2012



This sounds similar to Shoo!Tag http://www.tetherdcow.com/?cat=149
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written by Mark P, July 10, 2012
I don't like to blame the victim. So in addition to the company itself for making such claims, I guess we can blame the educational system for its failure to teach basic scientific literacy and critical thinking skills.


When alties claim that conventional medicine is not curing diseases that can be cured by their alternative means, you don't believe them. In fact you get quite annoyed. Yet you are happy to think all the world's teachers are somehow idiots who just haven't been trying hard enough to teach "critical thinking". You think you can cure a problem that trained teachers can't.

Well, that makes you an educational altie. And you're as wrong as the medical ones. Some things can't be taught. No amount of wishing that were untrue is going to make it true. It's hard enough just getting kids to be literate, never mind scientifically literate.
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written by I-Wonder, July 10, 2012
You think you can cure a problem that trained teachers can't.


Educational system....Educational SYSTEM. Steven wasn’t targeting “trained teachers”, you made that up.

You're trying too hard to find a personal attack. Seems like an exhausting way to live.
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Part of it's honest.
written by DustyOnMovies, July 15, 2012
somewhat similar to the basic principles of homeopathy
This part is true.
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